By Jeremy Kahn
San Francisco Giant pitcher Kevin Gausman in front of Brandon Belt (9) and Brandon Crawford (35) celebrate Gausman’s pinch hit sacrifice RBI that scored Crawford in the 11th inning at Oracle Park in San Francisco to edge the Atlanta Braves on Fri Sep 17, 2021 (AP News photo)
SAN FRANCISCO-If you had Kevin Gausman to get the game-winning run batted in for the San Francisco Giants, you should be a gambler.
Gausman came off the bench to pinch hit for Camilo Doval and hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning, as the Giants came back to defeat the Atlanta Braves 6-5 before a crowd of 26,644 at Oracle Park.
Coupled with the Cincinnati Reds win by the final of 3-1 at Great American Ballpark over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants lead over the Dodgers is up to two games in the National League West with 14 games to play.
The Giants, who ran out of position players after Curt Casali came off the bench to pinch-hit in the bottom of the ninth inning, were forced to send a pitcher to the plate to bat and the call went to Gausman, who walked in his only previous pinch-hit at bat.
Last walk-off RBI by a Giants pitcher prior to tonight was September 25, 2018 versus the San Diego Padres when Madison Bumgarner singled home Gorkys Hernandez in the bottom of the 12th inning.
Brandon Crawford was the runner on second in the bottom of the 11th inning, and after eventual losing pitcher Justin Webb threw his pickoff attempt into centerfield, Crawford got up and moved to third base. Webb then intentionally walked Evan Longoria, but then Webb was able to get Steven Duggar to fly out to Adam Duvall for the first out of the inning; however, Crawford was unable to score.
Webb then walked Donovan Solano intentionally for the second intentional walk of the inning and the fourth between the 10th and 11th innings alone that brought up Gausman, who ran the count to 3-2 and then on sixth pitch of the at-bat, launched the ball into right field and Crawford beat the throw from Joc Pederson to give the Giants one of the most dramatic wins of the season.
In each of the last 10 losses by the Braves, they have been by one or two runs. During the streak, they have seven one-run losses and three two-run losses and this was the 29th one-run loss by them this season, only the New York Mets with 32 have more.
Solano, who was walked intentionally in the bottom of the 11th inning sent the game into extra innings, as hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning with two strikes and two outs off of former Giants closer Will Smith.
This was the 16th pinch-hit home run of the season for the Giants, the most in the National League.
Solano, who was out for 21 games and in quarantine for a period of 14 days after tested positive for Covid-19.
Dominic Leone pitched a perfect eighth inning after replacing Logan Webb, who pitched a fantastic first seven innings for the Giants.
Tyler Rogers came on to close it out for the Giants, but got into immediate trouble in the top of the ninth inning, as he allowed back-to-back hits to Riley and Duvall and nearly gave up a third straight hit; however, Tommy La Stella made a great catch off a ball hit by Eddie Rosario for the first out of the inning. Then dArnaud launched what looked like a game-winning three-run home run into the left field bleachers just out of the reach of Kris Bryant that gave the Braves a short-lived 5-4 lead.
Brandon Belt, Crawford and Lamont Wade, Jr., joined Solano as they each hit home runs for the Giants.
Go figure, on the night that the Giants would hit three home runs, bringing their total to 227, passing the 2000 team for the second-most in team history and trailing the 2001 team for the most in team history, when they hit 235, the man who hit 122 of those home runs, would be at the game and his name is Barry Bonds.
Logan Webb pitched fantastic, as he went seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits, walking not a single batter and striking out nine, but did not fare in the decision.
Webb fell into a jam in the top of the first inning, as after he struck out the first two batters of the game, he then gave up three straight hits to Freddie Freeman, Austin Riley and Duvall, who drove in both runs in the inning, when he doubled off of Webb. Both Freeman and Riley singled prior to the Duvall double.
That lead would not last long, as Ian Anderson walked Darin Ruf to lead off the bottom of the first inning and then on a 2-0 pitch, Belt hit his team-leading 26th home run of the season.
Crawford gave the Giants the lead for the time being in the bottom of the second inning, as he led off the inning with his 21st home run of the season on a 3-1 pitch.
Wade, Jr., hit the third home run of the night for the Giants in the bottom of the fourth inning, as he hit a solo home run into McCovey Cove. It was the second Splash Hit of the season for Wade, and the 91st since the ballpark opened on April 11, 2000.
Crawford not only came up big at the plate, he also came up with a dazzling play in the field off of the bat of Riley in the top of the sixth inning. In what looked like was going to go into left field, Crawford dove into the hole, snared the ball with his glove, got up to throw across the infield to get Riley by a few steps at first base.
Anderson pitched the first 5.2 innings for the Braves, as he allowed four runs on five hits, walking two and striking out and like Webb did not fare in the decision.
Leone came on to replace Webb and promptly got out of the inning, as he retired the Braves in order, including Freeman, the 2020 NL MVP on a ground ball to end the inning. Freeman went 2-for-4 on the night.
Bryant doubled in the bottom of the sixth inning, it was the 16th straight game that Bryant would reach, his longest streak since July 4-26, 2019, when he also reached in 16 games, while with the Chicago Cubs.
NOTES: Solano returned from his rehab assignment and reinstated from the IL, while Jay Jackson was recalled from Sacramento, Jake McGee was placed on the 10-day IL (retro to September 14) with a right oblique strain and Thairo Estrada was optioned to Sacramento.
The Giants tied for the third most hits in a game, that were all extra base hits (since 1901): 5/5/1901 Reds: 10 8/18/1998 Braves (vs SF): 9 Tonight Giants: 8 6/3/2017 Yankees: 8 7/10/2010 Tigers: 8 9/18/2002 Cardinals: 8, this according to Sarah Langs.
The only other time that the Giants received a game-winning pinch hit RBI from a pitcher was Don Robinson on July 31, 1990 at Candlestick Park against Juan Agosto of the Houston Astros, when Robinson singled to score Brett Butler from third base.
This was the 16th four-home run or more game of the season, passing the Toronto Blue Jays for the most in the Major Leagues.
Also, the Solano home run was the 74th by the team this season, ranking third in the majors, behind the Tampa Bay Rays and the Blue Jays.
UP NEXT: Alex Wood takes the mound on Saturday night for the Giants, as he looks for his 11th win of the season, while Charlie Morton will take the mound for the Braves, as he looks for his 14th win of the season for the visitors from Atlanta.